Signs set to showcase volunteers’ great work

Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) has completed its latest project after being a recipient of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s (GORCC) Coastal Grants Program.

The group began the project in June 2019, erecting interpretative signage along the Jan Juc clifftops, providing visitors to the Surf Coast Walk with a before and after view of the area.

It’s not hard to see the huge amount of work the volunteer group has put into the Jan Juc clifftops area, but it will be even easier to see now with new signage in place.

The project aims to highlight to visitors the amount of hard work that has gone into making the area what it is today, showcasing the environmental successes the group has delivered.

Jan Juc Coast Action volunteer Luke Hynes and Great Ocean Road Coast Committee CEO Vanessa Schernickau alongside one of the newly installed signs.

The signs can be found alongside the Surf Coast Walk near Bird Rock Car Park, Jan Juc Beach Car Park and Steps Lookout in Jan Juc – locations that show the direct impact the volunteer group’s efforts have had on creating substantial positive environmental change on the clifftops.

Dedicated JJCA member Luke Hynes, who has been involved with the volunteer group for more than a decade, was thrilled to see the project completed and said it was a tribute to the many hours and great work the group has put in.

The transformation at Steps Lookout from 1995 to now.

Luke also thanked GORCC for their generous assistance, providing a $3,840 grant to get the project off the ground.

“There have been thousands of hours of volunteer work put in to enhance these areas. Hopefully, these pictures tell a bit of a story about how important it is to treat it well,” Luke said.

Not only will these signs provide great insight into the preservation of the Jan Juc clifftops, but they also help educate visitors.

It’s a new-look car park compared to 1980 at Jan Juc Car Park.

The signs read: ‘Our community chose to restore this coastal ecosystem. Help us look after and respect our fragile, diverse and unique habitat.’

The message is clear; the choice is ours to help our precious coastal ecosystems thrive.

The signs also provide visitors with information about JJCA and how they can get involved.

The popular walking track sees plenty of people, both local and tourists, enjoy the area and these signs will help to reduce the negative impact of people entering the protected areas on the clifftops as well as encourage environmental protection.

A perfect track to take a walk on, a far cry from the informal track pictured left 30 years ago.

The coastal vegetation along the clifftops has been restored over many years after human pressures degraded the landscape. With increased awareness, visitors will hopefully gain a better understanding and greater respect and awareness of the role we can all play in protecting the environment.

Jan Juc Coast Action holds a monthly working bee on the first Sunday of the month. Anyone interested in getting involved with the volunteer group can contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JanJucCoastAction for details.

Each year, GORCC dedicates funds for community-led projects that enhance the natural values of the 37 kilometres of coastal Crown land under its management between Point Impossible and Cumberland River. The grants aim to encourage proactive environmental and heritage protection along the coast. The next round of Coastal Grants opens mid-March 2020.

Great Ocean Road Coast invests in community projects

Five community and volunteer groups are set to benefit from the annual Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coastal Grant program with $10,000 going to projects that protect, enhance and increase community connections to the coastal environment.

ANGAIR, Anglesea Motor Yacht Club, Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club, Jan Juc Coast Action and Torquay Coast Action have all received funding towards their upcoming projects.

Read more

New online nature search launched

The Surf Coast Nature Search (SCNS), an interactive, online search tool for identifying weeds and indigenous plants in our region, has been launched.

The Surf Coast Nature Search homepage.
Surf Coast Nature Search homepage

The online resource, which has been developed by local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA),   is a detailed database of hundreds of indigenous plants and environmental weeds on the coast between Point Impossible and Bells Beach.

Users are able to search based on a range of criteria including plant type, flower colour, size, leaf shape and more.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes said the website is a great local asset for locals that will help support an increase in environmental awareness.

Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.
Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.

“The SCNS database has been a dream of the JJCA group for many years,” he said.

To date, JJCA volunteers have added 181 plant species to database, which is expected to grow as species are added and the tool extends to include fauna and cover more areas of the Surf Coast.

“It’s exciting to think that people with a limited understanding of botanical terms will now be able to identify local plants, pinpoint environmental weeds in their backyard and learn more about the environmental impacts and benefits of particular species,” said Mr. Hynes.

JJCA group volunteer Graeme Stockton said one of the aims of the database is to help coastal property owners create environmentally friendly gardens.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.
JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.

“The SCNS is a simple tool for identifying environmental weeds in your garden and selecting indigenous alternatives,” he said.

Weeds, which easily escape from local gardens, have been identified as the number one threat to the natural environment on the coast due to their ability to out compete indigenous species.

“Indigenous plants are vital, providing vital habitat for local birds and animals,” said Mr. Stockton.

Mr Hynes said the group had worked hard with locally based web design experts Boojum to ensure the platform was as interactive and easy to navigate as possible.

“Our biggest challenge was trying to incorporate complex plant characteristics in a searchable format that is flexible and user friendly,” he said.

Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs
Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs

The database can be accessed at www.scnaturesearch.com.au.

The project was supported by a $5000 State Governments CoastCare Grant, $2500 Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coastal Grant and $1000 Surf Coast Shire Grant.

Check out the Surf Coast Nature Search today and see how many plants you can identify from your garden! Let us know how many indigenous plants you find in your backyard in the comments below. 

Plant Tool in Production

An innovative, searchable plant database is in production thanks to grant funding, donations and the work of Jan Juc Coast Action volunteers.

The online tool, which will allow people to identify indigenous species and environmental weeds growing in the Jan Juc area, will provide in-depth information about local flora.

Jan Juc Coast Action is working with a range of partners on the project, including the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) and Boojum, a local online design business.

The project was recently awarded a GORCC Coastal Grant of $2500 and has also received support through a State Government Coastcare Grant.

Jan Juc Coast Action volunteers Graeme Stockton (left) Geoff Morgan and GORCC Conservation supervisor Georgie Beale
Jan Juc Coast Action volunteers Graeme Stockton (left) Geoff Morgan and GORCC Conservation supervisor Georgie Beale are picture with the Indigenous Olearia plant in Jan Juc

Jan Juc Coast Action volunteer Graeme ­­Stockton said the database will help to protect local flora and fauna by allowing coastal property owners to identify environmental weeds in their gardens and offering them indigenous alternatives.

“Environmental weeds are harmful plants that quickly spread to nearby habitats causing severe damage to the fragile coastal environment.

“We only have a thin strip of natural coastal habitat left and residential gardens are located very close to these fragile environments,” he said.

Jan Juc Coast Action hopes the database will be expanded beyond Jan Juc in the future to cover indigenous plants and weeds right along the GORCC managed coast.

“It would be ideal to see this tool expanded to become a comprehensive database of not only flora along GORCC-managed land but fauna as well,” said Mr. Stockton.

Boojum Lead Designer Roland Maxwell who has been working with the volunteers to create the website, has donated hundreds of hours to the project.

“The database will be searchable in a range of ways including flower colour, size, leaf shape and more,” he said.

The platform has been designed to be as flexible and user friendly as possible.

The website is flexible enough to support future growth to the database and potential extensions of the project such as applications for mobile,” said Mr Maxwell.

GORCC is supporting the project through both grant funding and in-kind assistance.

GORCC Community Liaison Manager Jane Lovejoy said the website is set to become an indispensable tool that can be used by volunteers, community members and educators alike.

“This tool will be a fabulous education resource for school groups that we engage through our education programs.

“Additionally, those who love the coast and enjoy walking along the Jan Juc Cliffs and admiring indigenous species will be able to accurately determine what plant they’re looking at,” she said.

More information on coastal volunteering and the GORCC Coastal Grants program is available at www.gorcc.com.au.

This article was published in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column